Aplscruf's Music Blog

X Keeps on Giving 40 Years Later

IMG_3866

It was a cold and damp December evening. My son Jacob and I crossed First Avenue and headed toward the neon-framed marquee of The Showbox to see X. Seattle’s streets shimmered with thawing snow, two days after a White Christmas–a rarity here. X is a rarity too, still intact after 40 years. Forty years of raw, chest-thumping, eardrum-splitting punk rock.

Their 40th Anniversary tour is a gift that just keeps on giving. Seattle was a stop in the final leg of their year-long tour, which actually began in 2016. The Grande Finale of 2017 took place December 30th in San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom.

X have been around so long, they’re already stuffed in a museum. The GRAMMY museum in L.A. just opened an exhibit in October: X: 40 Years of Punk in Los Angeles, which features X artifacts and memorabilia. There is also a book and a movie out about X and the L.A. punk scene. You’d think they were long gone, with all the honors bestowed upon them.

Exene Cervenka, vocalist for X, exclaims on their website: “For a long time interviewers and X people we’ve met have asked us, ‘Did you think when X started you’d still be playing together now?’ And our answer is surprisingly – No! Of course not!” Like the first fiery X on their Los Angeles album cover, they rose from the ashes, catching fire again and again as new generations of fans fueled them. Exene also added: “A couple weeks ago we were in the van coming home from a show, and started talking about this very exciting 40th Anniversary year coming up. Then Billy said: ‘That’s nice. What are we doing for our 50th anniversary?'”

IMG_3828

Back at The Showbox, makeshift airport metal detectors guarded the entrance. My purse was searched by security as I walked through the rectangular detectors. I hate the New World sometimes, but I’ll tolerate the terrorist paranoia in order to see a live show. The cycle of life and history keeps spinning ’round as new becomes old and old becomes new again. 

Our photo passes only allowed access on the sides of stage; but as usual in Seattle, no one showed up until halfway through the opener. We had prime standing positions in front of the stage, if we could tolerate standing for the next 3.5 hours. Seemed like the punk thing to do. Since X would be doing all the work, we could honor their efforts by standing and getting sweaty right along with them. I knew once we committed, we’d stay put the rest of the night.

X brought in some young blood to open the show this night. LPIII & The Tragedy were supporting X in the Northwest leg of the tour and promoting their debut album, Southland Hum. LPIII and the Tragedy set The Showbox ablaze with their punk swagger, borrowing riffs from roots rock to cow-punk, but they still sounded genuine and fresh.

DSC_9160

Louis Perez III, is an L.A. prince (his father is Louie Perez Jr. of Los Lobos fame), but has branched out and developed his own style of music. A necessary rite of passage, if one is to follow in his father’s musical footsteps. With intense, primal vocals and scorching lead guitar, he knew how to work the stage and energize the crowd.

DSC_9167

Perez’s cousin, Ruby Rosas (vox/bass), peered over the audience with dagger eyes, eager to rip our hearts out and eat them while thumping out bass riffs in snakeskin stilettos. And we were okay with that. She had full control of her instrument and matched Perez in talent and intensity.

DSC_9187

The rest of the band enveloped the two and created a tight, raucous sound, which included Mike Berault on keys, Carlos Guzman on rhythm guitar, and Eric Fuller on drums.

Check out their latest video of the title track here: https://www.lp3andthetragedy.com/video

After a huge applause erupted for LPIII & The Tragedy, the mob was fired up and ready for X.

IMG_3919

John Doe and Exene Cervenka of X

X’s punk music felt just as fresh and relevant as it must have 4 decades ago. No need for them to record “new” music. They have enough timeless hits to fill the night and keep the audience fully engaged. Generations of fans attended the Showbox this night, proving how timeless their music truly is. It speaks to the fans. Its roots run deep, touching many genres, from rockabilly to country, rock and pop. The mosh pit did change considerably, as the majority of the crowd was a bit older. This evening, the pit consisted of one skinny punk kid, flailing his arms and legs, who immediately got clothes-lined by a man twice his age and weight. End of mosh pit.

DSC_9203

Their onstage chemistry is that of a band who still “genuinely like each other”, said bassist/vocalist John Doe, in a recent interview in The Seattle Times. Their playful, knowing looks, inside jokes, and teasing remarks onstage added to the fun atmosphere. At one point, guitarist Billy Zoom kept telling drummer DJ Bonebrake: “Hold on!” right when DJ counted out a beat. After the third time, DJ learned his lesson and they blasted into another song, right on cue. For this show, X added guest musician Craig Packham to fill in on rhythm guitar so Billy could play his sax. Craig also played drums while DJ hit the vibraphone for a few songs.

DSC_9217

Billy Zoom, although seated again for most of the show, still had that Eternal Smile and mugged for the cameras in the front row. He’s still sweet and baby-faced, still playing like a madman, but cool as a cucumber on the outside, barely moving a muscle except those in his flying fingers.

Jacob, my son and photographer co-pilot, witnessed Doe’s solo show at The Triple Door a couple years ago. The lively show, more country than rock, included Jesse Dayton’s terrific backing band. Doe was a little more subdued, letting Dayton do the heavy lifting. Jacob hadn’t seen X as a full band before, and was pleasantly surprised by Doe’s dynamic bass grooves, his magnetism, synergy, and chemistry with X. Not to mention his contrapposto punk stance. The man’s still got it.

IMG_3946

I looked over and Jacob during “Hungry Wolf”. His eyes were closed and his head was bobbing, immersed in DJ’s rolling thunder. The wooden floor bounced to the beat below our stomping feet. The rest of the band disappeared behind the stage as our chests reverberated in marked time. After DJ’s powerful solo, Billy took his seat and conjured the devil out of his guitar, making other-worldly noises and screeches, howling and growling. Exene and John joined the pack to finish up the explosive song.

IMG_3892

DJ Bonebrake

“Mind if we sing a couple end-of-the-world songs?” said John. Exene shuffled over to him and held up 5 fingers close to his face with a coy smile.  John continued: “Uh, make that five end-of-the-world songs…”

If the world ended tonight, we’d all go out spent and satisfied. How punk is that? And isn’t that what music should do for us? Fuck the end of the world.

IMG_3931

Exene, seemingly in her own world, spun and swayed, with hands nesting in her hair. Sometimes she looked like a marionette with arms and legs attached to invisible strings, resurrecting her black-and-white ghost persona in “Because I Do.” When it was her turn in front of the mic, though, she became reanimated, punching out song after song, harmonizing with Doe, screaming, shrieking, and belting out lyrics.

IMG_3947

A woman about my age made her way to the front. Her smiling, glowing face showed how much she loved this band. She knew all the words, sang along, and reached out to each of them as she caught their eyes. During “Come Back To Me”, Exene extended a hand to the woman and held it while she finished her verse. It was so sweet and genuine. A tender moment at a punk rock show. Are they losing their punk angst? No, but they know how to give and receive love. It’s why they’re still around playing for us today.

I gave the fan my business card and told her to write to me, and I’d send her a picture. Priceless.

IMG_3966

Billy played sax during the song, and John later quipped, “That was our jazz interlude.”

IMG_4007

Billy Zoom on sax, guitar pick resting on forehead

The night grew long and hot. We held our positions, not daring to leave and expect to get back to the front lines. Sweating through my two shirts, I decided to remove my denim shirt, hand painted with copper arrows that my artist friend made me as a surprise Christmas present–a Wild Gift, just for tonight’s show. It was a beautiful bootleg, honoring Doe’s trademark look, crafted out of love and friendship. I held it up and caught Mr. Doe’s eye. He gave me a big smile and a little chuckle. Ahh, heaven right here in the heat and the fiery glow.

To be fair, though, Doe’s look and other cool hand-made designer clothing can be purchased through Featherweight Studio.

IMG_4028

John Doe, all punk and arrows

A young woman had the honor of helping Billy play his guitar at the end of the show. I caught a picture in the hazy glow of the lights, as if Billy were an angel sent down to greet her. She later exclaimed on my Facebook page where I’d posted the pic: “Happiest moment in all my life!” What more could you ask for as a fan or as a musician?

IMG_4046

Billy Zoom gets a helping hand from an adoring fan

Exene also expounded on the tour in a 2016 Seattle Times article: “We’ve got three generations of people now coming to see us. I’m grateful that we’re still doing it and I’m grateful people still want to see us. You don’t retire…you play until you die.”

I cannot go without saying how I was reminded of another 40th anniversary tour that just wrapped up a few months ago. The bittersweet and shocking ending of Tom Petty’s  life happened just days after his tour ended. As with X, we’ll still have the music, long after they’re gone. Nothing beats the shared energy of a live show, though.

It was a punk rock show after all, so I believe I’m allowed to toss around an “F” bomb a couple of times. Maybe I’m being selfish, even after acknowledging that life and death form a never-ending circle, but here goes:

X, don’t fucking die. Shoot for the 50th Anniversary.

Peace, Love, and Punk Rock to All…

IMG_3889

 

For more information, check out their websites and purchase their merch:

http://www.xtheband.com/

John Doe

https://www.lp3andthetragedy.com/

For fantastic pics of the show, check out Peter Dervin Photography and his review on No Depression: http://nodepression.com/live-review/x-celebrates-their-40th-anniversary-showbox-seattle

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

December 31, 2017 Posted by | 2017, The Showbox, X | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Gift of Music, Art, and Other Holiday Cheer

Tornado Nebula

Tornado Nebula by Jacob Knight

‘Tis the season for giving. Let’s give support to good causes and to our artist friends near and far. Spread good cheer all ’round. Here are a few of my favorite things (and people!). I know I missed many, and don’t have the time to list them all. If you have other artists, charities, music, or websites in mind, feel free to comment below and include a link.

Kosmos Journal – Give the journal subscription to someone you love and help transform our world! Writers are also encouraged to submit pieces on various topics. You can also donate by purchasing a beautiful meditation bracelet, hand-crafted by the multi-talented New York artist Kari Auerbach.

Speaking of New York artists, check out Kathy Luker Hats – Support Kathy Luker’s fundraising campaign and give one of her hand-made hats to the rockstar in your life! Raspberry beret? Yep, she makes those, too!

New York is also home to the lovely actress Ms. Bernadette Quigley and of Quigley Media whose musical clientele ranges from Canadian folk singers to Austin rock stars. Check out links to her work and purchase some exciting new music from her clients.

Writers Helping Writers – Do you know someone who is writing the Next Great American Novel? This is a fabulous site with lots of tips and books available to move from writer to bestselling author! They also give to great causes on their site.

Another great way to support the writer in your life is to purchase a membership to a local writing chapter. Here in the Northwest, we have PNWA (Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association) and for romance writers of all genres, GSRWA (Greater Seattle Romance Writers of America), local chapter to the national RWA.  If you’d like to donate, there are also scholarships available to help support all writers.

Need an editor for that Great American Novel? Check out Lynne Pearson of All That Editing. She just edited my manuscript in October, and I came away with the motivation and confidence to dive into rewrites.

Want to give the gift of original abstract paintings like the one above? Check out Jacob Knight Art on FB or Instagram. Yeah, he might be my son. And he’s pretty cool.

No Depression – Looking for the quintessential roots and Americana music mag to give to friends and family? Purchase their subscription at 20% off right now. Check out the dazzling list of artists reviewed on this site, as well as their year-end readers poll, where you can vote for your favorite album, including one of our faves, Will Kimbrough and Brigitte DeMeyer’s Mockingbird Soul. Grayson Capps, also has a new album featured on the year-end poll, called Scarlett Roses. Will and Grayson are a part of the Alabama Supergroup, Willie Sugarcapps. Purchase music by following the artist links or GTS (google that stuff!).

You can also support another Will Kimbrough project with Tommy Womack and their band DADDY. I included an article of a recent fundraiser to support their album. Find ’em on Facebook for more info.

Americana Music – Another essential source for award-winning artists, and for planning your next trip to watch them perform at the Americana Music Festival in Nashville.

Paul Kerr’s Blabber ‘n’ Smoke is another excellent resource for Americana music, from a Glasgow point of view. His reviews are thoughtful and poetic, and usually include a video or song selection.

From Glasgow, take a day and head over to Kilkenny, Ireland to Rollercoaster Records, The Happiest Little Record Shop in the World. Buy some vinyl, see a show, and pay respects to the late great Willie Meighan .

Jeff Finlin – Jeff is known world-wide for his musical artistry, but is also a poet, author, and certified yoga instructor and counselor. He has recently worked as an addiction therapist in a treatment center, instructing patients how to turn their words of trauma into healing poetry. Download his music and buy his books on his website.

Willy Vlautin – This man’s on a winning streak. He’s a famous author and formerly of Portland’s world-renowned band Richmond Fontaine. Check out Willy’s websites, download some music, and purchase one of his books. His latest novel, Don’t Skip Out On Me, is due in February. Also, a film based on his novel Lean On Pete will screen in American theaters in February and stars Steve Buscemi.

Massy Ferguson – Seattle’s own American Rock band for over a decade. We’ve seen them countless times, and they never fail to entertain and rock the house. They also perform shows for good causes, and can be found rocking all over the metropolitan area–and across The Pond! Grab a loved one and go! Stream their latest, Run It Right Into The Wall on their website and purchase a disk or three.

Dusty 45’s and DESC – Not to be outdone, The Dusty 45’s have been rocking Seattle for two decades, and were the backing band for Ms. Wanda Jackson, Queen of Rockabilly! They also host the DESC(Downtown Emergency Service Center) annual fundraiser.

Time to Give Back, Y’all.

 

 

December 4, 2017 Posted by | 2017, Holiday Gifts, Jacob Knight Art, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments